Several of the officers in the Devil's Island contingent are off on vacation, the result being that I've been working 12-hour day shifts all this week to make up for the gaps. Today, eleven hours and seventeen minutes into one such, I was dispatched to the Nouveau Acres subdivision to take a report of stolen money.
I was, I admit, not in a terribly charitable mood at this news. It had been a long, hot day and about the last thing I wanted to do was deal with typical NA roommate drama; to take a report from some post-adolescent twit who would bristle at the slightest suggestion that their decision to allow their friend's cousin's ex-boyfriend to crash on their couch while he "worked some things out" was somehow less than stellar. A report that would surely earn me grief from the unit detective for handing him a penny-ante impossible crime.
The actual situation was somewhat different. Our complainant was a middle-aged woman with a mousy, nervous manner. The victim was her 16-year old daughter, who I'll call "Kylie". Kylie had been robbed; someone had rummaged under her bed, pulled out the paint can where she stashed her summer job's wages, and taken about $300. They didn't take it all - the envelope was lying in the middle of the floor, and I could see a twenty still in it. There had been no forced entry, and nothing else in the house had been taken.
Kylie and Mom's suspicion, with which I and the shift supervisor agreed, was that the culprit was probably Kylie's sister, 19 years old, three weeks out of rehab (coke), and staying temporarily with her mother and sister. Sis wasn't at home when we got there.
The complainant's ex-husband, a hotshot computer exec living on the other side of the country, had been furious and demanded that she call the police and have the scene fingerprinted. The problem there, as we explained to Mom, was that the Crime Scene team, by policy, wouldn't process the scene unless the theft were $1000 or more. Even if they had, the presence of Sis's fingerprints in the house where she is living is of pretty limited value. And Kylie couldn't be sure when exactly the theft had occurred, other than that it had been sometime in the previous week. The likelihood of a successful prosecution, if that was something Mom even wanted to pursue, was pretty low. We gave Mom what advice we could. Kylie mostly sat on her bed in dejected silence and sniffled, occasionally nodding sagely as we outlined the basic inability of the Machinery of the State to stop a 19-year-old junkie from stealing from her little sister.
It was then that it struck me: I had been in this house before.
Sgt. Rudy and I had responded there, shortly after I was transferred to Devil's Island. It was an EMS call. The mother had tried to kill herself by sitting in the garage and idling the car. She was unconscious but not quite dead when Kylie came home from cheerleading practice and found her. She opened the garage door and called 911, saving her mother's life.
Kylie is, by preponderance of the evidence, the most mature and sensible person in that particular household. It's doubly a shame her money was stolen; she'll need it to pay her therapy bills some day.